Bangladesh storm into Super Eight
It was a delayed, stop-start affair that was reduced to 21 overs-a-side but will go down as one of the biggest moments in Bangladesh's sporting history, a sweet seven-wicket triumph that surged them into the second stage of the World Cup. Their comfortable victory meant that India were well and truly ousted from the competition, leaving Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to carry forward the Asian hopes from here on.
It was a wet, gloomy affair at the Queen's Park Oval but one that ended in a wave of Bangladeshi elation. They kept Bermuda down to 94, largely owing to Mashrafe Mortaza and Abdur Razzak, and then got home by seven wickets in conditions where the ball was moving around prodigiously. Chasing a meagre 96, Bangladesh were shaky at 37 for 3 but Mohammad Ashraful and Saqibul Hasan stitched together a 59-run stand to seal the issue.
Defending a Duckworth-Lewis revised target of 96, Bermuda needed something special from their bowlers, and Kevin Hurdle delivered it, though not with his extra-ridden opening overs. Saleem Mukuddem, recalled into the XI, struck with his first ball as Tamim Iqbal shimmied down the track and top-edged over point. Hurdle sprinted over from third man, ran towards deep point, dove and pulled off a stunner with both hands.
Hurdle couldn't transform that effort into a good bowling display; three no-balls and a six followed in his second over. At the other end, a spirited Mukuddem hustled in and got the ball to move both ways off the scrambled seam and forced the wicketkeeper to stand up to the stumps. Aftab Ahmed drove perilously close to a diving mid-off and inside-edged on more than one occasion before he played all around an incutter that struck him in front of off stump. Mukuddem was rewarded for his consistent movement off a great length with a third wicket when he forced a shaky Shahriar Nafees to edge to second slip in the last over of the Powerplays.
Perhaps unsure of how to approach their run chase, Saqibul and Ashraful survived leg before shouts, balls whizzing over the top of the stumps, and dropped catches. Fortunately for their side, they held their nerves. The yells and whoops from their team-mates on the balcony was one for the photo album.
Blue tarps and yellow tarp were both used by the groundstaff in a game that started roughly two-and-a-half-hours late due to rain and was held up four times, but Bangladesh's decision to bowl first was justified. Mortaza wasted little time with the new ball under overcast conditions - Steven Outerbridge went for an injudicious pull in the first over but only found Mohammad Rafique at fine leg. After just three overs, however, the players and umpires were forced back into the hut as a massive rain shower lashed across the Queen's Park Oval.
The rain relented somewhat, the match was brought down to 35 overs, the groundstaff did a commendable job, and Mortaza needed just one delivery to take his second wicket. Syed Rasel wasn't about to be left out, and picked up David Hemp with some help from Aftab Ahmed at backward point. But that the good old rain refused to go away for long and for the second time the players and umpires went inside with Bermuda on 17 for three after 7.4 overs.
On resumption, Bashar introduced spin in the form of Razzak. The ball had to be wiped every few seconds, and the lack of turn did Bermuda, even in slippery conditions, created doubt in the batsmen's' minds. Captain Irvine Romaine adopted a stand-and-defend-or-swish approach, which worked for two thumped boundaries down the ground off Razzak, but when the bowler fired in one at 100kmhs, Romaine was a dead duck in front of middle stump.
A fourth interruption curtailed the game to 21 overs, forcing Bermuda to go for broke. Dean Minors was let off at deep square leg off Saqibul's slow left-arm spin, but two balls later Pitcher was smartly taken by Bashar, who ran backwards at sweeper cover and took the catch as he tumbled over. Lionel Cann took two fours and a six off three Aftab deliveries, was stumped off Saqibul, Rafique removed Tucker, Minors hit a big six in his 25-ball 23, and Bermuda set Bangladesh a Duckworth-Lewis revised 96 to get at just over four-and-a-half runs an over. Many in India would have stayed up late to hope Bermuda pull this one off, but would have to go to sleep disappointed.
Jamie Alter is editorial assistant of Cricinfo